Joaquin Phoenix’s 2020 Oscars speech about animal rights was received in a multitude of different ways. Some, whether vegan, vegetarian or not, agreed that 45-year-old Phoenix is right: the way we treat animals in slaughterhouses and the like is unacceptable. Others rolled their eyes in annoyance at another rich celebrity who can afford vegan substitutes preaching to less-fortunate people that are themselves suffering every day.
Whichever side you fall on, one thing is now clear: Joaquin practices what he preaches. He’s been a vegan since he was three, and he recently met with a California beef packer who allowed him to rescue two cows meant for slaughter.
Joaquin’s speech, for those who didn’t see it, served to raise awareness for the voiceless animals we kill for food every day. He had just won the Best Actor award for his role as the Joker, but he used his time to talk about animal abuse.
“We go into the natural world and we plunder it for its resources,” he said. “We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakeable. Then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal.”
Joaquin then referenced his late brother, actor River Phoenix, to close his speech.
“When he was 17, my brother [River] wrote this lyric. He said: “run to the rescue with love and peace will follow.”
Now, Joaquin has run to the rescue of a baby calf and its mother.
Joaquin and partner Rooney Mara accompanied the nonprofit Los Angeles Animal Save to a local slaughterhouse. There, he met the owner of the beef packing plant, who welcomed Phoenix. “I never thought I’d find friendship in a slaughterhouse,” the Oscar winner said.
The owner allowed Joaquin to rescue a cow named Liberty and her baby Indigo. Phoenix then took the duo to Farm Sanctuary in north Los Angeles.
“My hope is, as we watch baby Indigo grow up with her mom Liberty at Farm Sanctuary, that we’ll always remember that friendship can emerge in the most unexpected places,” Phoenix said. “And no matter our differences, kindness and compassion should rule everything around us.”